The Panthers defeated the Cavaliers 14-3. It was beautiful football weather for Pitt's homecoming. The offense, however, did not play so beautifully, but luckily for the Panthers the Pitt defense stepped it up.
"I'm just so proud of our defense," said Devin Street. "They stepped up. It is just showing how much of a team we are and I think we still have a lot of work to do but we played as a team."
In last week's showing, the defense gave up 53 points. Virginia, however, couldn't find a crack and only managed to score three. To give it some perspective, the best play UVA pulled off was a 77-yard punt by Alec Vozenilek.
The Panthers defense forced two turnovers, which both turned into scoring drives for Savage and the Panthers. It's scary to think what the score would have looked like without the forced turnovers. It could have been very possible to have a final score of 0-3 and a Panthers loss.
"Our defense played really well," said head coach Paul Chryst. "They brought a lot of energy. Certainly, those early turnovers were a key. We were able to cash in on them. It was certainly good and we appreciate the victory. There were a lot of good performances on defense, but mostly I felt everyone was doing their job. The players were cutting loose and that was good to see."
The defense also made big plays on third downs. Virginia only completed 3-of-18 of their third-down conversions. The brightest spot on the Panthers defense is when they made a goal line stance against the Cavaliers on fourth-and-two.
If you didn't notice the defense last week then Aaron Donald made sure that you took notice this week. Donald had two solo sacks for a combined loss of 22-yards.
"It felt real good, especially after last week," said Donald. "Last week we missed plays and that is the difference between last week and this week. Communication was real important and everybody was making plays. We got out there and did what we had to do."
Pitt had three turnovers - 2 interceptions and a fumble. Certainly not a positive, but the defense easily cleaned up the offenses' mistakes.
In the second quarter, Savage threw his first pick of the game. Demetrious Nicholson returned it for 0 yards, and Virginia only got 8-yards on the series.
Second mistake was surprisingly made by Tyler Boyd who fumbled on the drive, but Virginia only gets 5-yards before their forced to punt.
Boyd still appeared affected by the fumble following the game. In fact, he barely gave himself credit for his third consecutive 100-yard game. Boyd is the second Pitt freshman to ever pull it off since Antonio Bryant in 1999.
"I just want to continue to go out there and play my game," said Boyd. "This week I did not think that I played to the best of my ability but I still went out there and got the job done."
Savage throws a second pick in the third and Anthony Harris gets credit for it, but returns it for 0-yards with Tyler Boyd right there to make the tackle. The Cavaliers only had three chances and David Watford completes just one pass for 3-yards.
"Offensively, we struggled and never really got a rhythm going," said Chryst. "Virginia has a good defense. On third downs, we continued to struggle. We were consistent running the football. We never got in rhythm. We've got to work together to get better. I thought special teams did a better job today."
Matt Yoklic or better know as Yoknation turned in a strong punting performance with 9 punts for 405-yards, averaging 45. His longest punt of the game was 57-yards, not quite 77-yards but still impressive nonetheless.
Panther ProblemsSurprisingly, Jim Hueber's offensive line did not perform well compared to their past three showings. Savage was sacked a total of 7 times, and it was the most UVA has had since a road win at NC State last season. This O-line has only given up six sacks in their first three games, but doubled that stat line in today's game.
Third-down completions was an issue not only for Virginia but also Pitt. Between both teams only a combined 9 third-down conversions were successful.
The offense certainly struggled this game, but luckily the defense way able to pick up the slack. The Panthers are entering a bye week and next up is Virginia Tech. Pitt will need the extra time to prepare for their first true test against an ACC opponent.